Heyford Singers – Desert Island Discs – May 2020

Desert Island Discs – your choices

In response to my request to readers last month I have had a few replies. I am going to begin with the one from Keith Rands-Allen, and for this reason… as many of you may know Keith experienced a horrific road accident two summers ago. It has been a long and, at times difficult journey, back to full health and mobility. But his determination and resilience to “return to normal”, together with the support of Julie, his friends and family, is surely something that we all aspire to in these difficult times.

Jill Langrish

Keith Rands-Allen’s Desert Island Discs – 29th March 2020

I’ve always been a great lover of Jazz music since my early teens. When my friends were listening to Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley I was listening to Acker Bilk and Chris Barber, and the love of Jazz has stayed with me to this day. If you come to our house you will invariably find Alexa playing the American radio station Jazz24.

So these are the musicians and their recordings that have accompanied my life:

Singin’ the Blues by Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke on
cornet. (1927): Bix was one of the finest and most influential trumpet players of his age and a great influence on many Jazz trumpeters who followed him. Like many Jazz musicians he died tragically early in 1931 aged 28. His playing in Singin’ the Blues stands head and shoulders above the other musicians and his tone (“like shooting silver bullets at a bell”) melodic phrasing and rhythmic invention are exquisite.

Tiger Rag by Chris Barber (1953): This was the record that turned me on to Jazz. It was in a record collection in a house that I holidayed in around 1956 and I couldn’t stop playing it. The banjo player is Lonnie Donegan who later became very popular in the Skiffle craze.

Two Sleepy People by Fats Waller: Fats was a great favourite of my Dad. Fats was
a fine pianist, composer (Honeysuckle Rose) and singer with a wicked sense of

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong: Louis possessed two amazing
instruments – his trumpet and his voice, and this is a wonderful recording of his voice in later life after he’d been forced to give up blowing. His timing and phrasing are perfect. It’s also a favourite of Julie’s.

Jungle Town by Ken Colyer: Ken was an irascible British trumpet player and band
leader who insisted on sticking to the original purity of New Orleans Jazz. Having been partly responsible for the Trad Jazz boom of the sixties he came to despise its commercial excesses and went his own sweet way playing to small audiences in small Jazz Clubs. This recording has Ken playing (in a school hall in Edmonton) a fine trumpet line, but I think is notable for the last few choruses which demonstrate ensemble Jazz playing at its glorious raggy best!

Fine and Mellow by Billie Holiday: This was recorded for television and is available as a video on YouTube. It’s notable not only for Billie in relaxed voice but also for the galaxy of Jazz stars that accompany her including (In order of solos) Ben Webster (tenor sax), Lester Young (tenor sax), Vic Dickinson (trombone), Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), and Roy Eldridge (trumpet). Billie and Lester hadn’t worked together for some time and the expression on Billie’s face when Lester plays his wonderfully cool solo speaks volumes.

Bill by Cleo Laine: This comes from the musical Showboat which Julie and I saw (to mixed reviews! ) in the West End. I can’t listen to this with a dry eye. It’s a sloppy sentimental tune but Cleo’s interpretation is wonderful. The lyrics were originally written by P G Wodehouse.

Concerto for 2 Violins by Bach: This is just liquid beauty. They say that if Bach had been alive today he’d have been a Jazzer, which is why I think he is probably my favourite classical composer.

Then there’s all the stuff that I’d try to grab as the ship was sinking and smuggle ashore: Vissi D’arte by Maria Callas, Potato Head Blues by Louis Armstrong, how could I leave out Barbra Streisand, or something by Duke Ellington or Count Basie? And then there’s Art Tatum and Miles Davis, and I can’t leave out something by that fine guitar player Gary Potter. It’s so cruel having to choose! Oh God, I’ve just played Nimrod again – how can I leave that out?

Well, there we have it. I’ve put a date on it because if I had to choose again
tomorrow I would no doubt change something.

The book I would take? I’m not a great reader, but The Complete Works of
Shakespeare would be useful – I would keep the sonnets and the rest would come
in handy for lighting fires.

And my luxury? Probably a saxophone (alto or tenor) with a supply of reeds. I could then learn to play the thing properly and play along with my Jazz heroes. Or better still – a fully loaded I-pod complete with a solar battery charger and earphones!

Enough of this torture! It’s time to send the list to Jill.

In the unlikely event that anybody would like some or all of these tracks on a CD I’d be happy to oblige.

Keith Rands-Allen


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.



Heyford Singers – May 2020


A very Happy Birthday to all who celebrated birthdays during April (or since this current lock-down began). It was probably very different from how you’d expected or planned, without gatherings of friends or family to celebrate your day. Mine began with a 7.00 am telephone chorus of “Happy Birthday” from all my grandchildren, which fortunately I have kept it as an answerphone message for when I want to hear their joyful voices again.

We honoured Isabel Billingham, a very special lady in our community and in Manor Park, for her 90th birthday, with neighbours and friends gathering in the road to sing “Happy Birthday”, accompanied by Keith Rands-Allen on his saxophone. It was a really lovely occasion.

As this most beautiful of springtime unwinds, we are being treated to a daily
symphony of birdsong, from early morning until dusk. We now have the time to stop, to listen and to marvel at the different melodies being performed around us. The silence is also very obvious. Was the world so noisy and full of busy sounds that we have bypassed the magic of silent moments in our lives?

The quieter but distant hum from the motorway, or the less frequent trains hurtling north or south, are a reminder of those who have to travel to work, to keep us safe, healthy, fed and our utilities maintained.

When the telephone rings now it invariably means that a family member or friend
wants to have a chat, no need now for quick texts of emails, but to share and talk about ourselves and our days at home. Similarly I love to hear the 2 metre social distance “Hellos” or conversations as we pass other folk out on their daily exercise routes pass – suffice it to say that we have all made many, many more friends during this period than we would have done driving along in our cars.

I leave the most moving sound of all to last… that of the weekly Thursday night
applause for all those who are supporting us through these strange times, everyone in the hospitals, care homes, shops, schools, all those who deliver and collect for us. That simple act of clapping together, everywhere and by everyone, is truly amazing and heartfelt.

Keep safe, keep well and keep smiling.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


The Story of Heyford: The Manor House 1947-1956 V4C6

The Manor House 1947-1956

Volume 2 in our series of booklets included the story of the Manor House, but there were some gaps in the post war period.

The Story of Heyford: Heyford Manor and the Manor House V2C5

Since the publication of the original story in Volume 2, some more information has come to light. The words below, written by Julie Rands-Allen, fill in those missing years.

After the billeting of soldiers in the Manor House and other uses for the war effort, it was difficult to know who occupied it in the forties and fifties. But by a chance encounter between Bill Needham and one of the occupants at that time, we find that it was owned by Mr and Mrs Colonel Reid from 1947 to approximately 1956.

When they were there, there were only two servants and an ‘odd man’ (as Mrs Reid describes him). This ‘odd man’ had a bed sitting room by the back door (which is now in the front of the house) being a basement, which in the old days, was the servants’ hall. He was responsible for numerous chores, one of which was bringing in the wood which fuelled the aga. At that time the side door (now the East Wing’s front door) opened out on to a magnificent rose garden and the garden wall ran right along to the Denny’s. The staircase was, according to Mrs Reid, listed and is still I believe the original in situ.

Mrs Reid and her husband brought up three children in the delightful surroundings of the Manor. But developers were harassing the Reids even then to sell part of their land. However they flatly refused to part with any, with the exception of land to Mr Denny to build the houses along the Green between the Foresters and the school. As Mrs Reid said, they had road frontage and would not be too intrusive. She is understandably horrified at what has happened since.

The lawns of the manor went down to the Nene and it was here that Colonel Reid used to practice his ‘shout’, for in 1953 he commanded the Trooping of the Colour. Old photographs from Mrs Reid’s family album show the Colonel in full regalia commanding the regiment for this spectacular event and others show Colonel Reid in his official capacity at the State Funeral of George VI.

In these heady days – almost the last of the Manor being used as it was originally intended – the family holidayed in St Moritz and enjoyed an era that has hitherto disappeared. But unlike previous occupants, Mrs Reid was an excellent cook taking an active part in the running of the household.

She now lives at The Glebe House in Marston St Lawrence – a magnificent old house which has also stood the test of time and enjoys the companionship of just one ‘absolute gem’ who helps her with the work involved in the up-keep of such a place.

Julie Rands-Allen


Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 6 of 8 | Pages 27


Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

Carols on the Green (December 2019) – Update – February 2020

Carols on the Green – December 2019

When I first envisaged ‘Carols on the Green’ I had a picture of villagers singing as in a Christmas card, with the weather ‘Deep and crisp and even’. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, standing on the green, it was more like ‘Wind and rain and boggy’. The team who came to set up were incredible, completely ignored the weather and got drenched in the process. However, NEVER doubt the power of prayer as by 6.30 it had actually stopped raining and the wind was not as bad – I can’t claim that the green was perfectly dry but we can’t have everything! I would like to say a heartfelt, personal thank you to everyone who turned out to raise their voices to Christmas.

You raised £256.56p towards replacing our Church roof which, considering the conditions, was wonderful. I would also like to thank you all for leaving virtually no litter for me to pick up the next morning.

On behalf of Heyford Singers there are, as always, people who must be acknowledged for their help in the organisation of an evening such as this and I hope you will forgive me if I have missed anyone out!

The Parish Council for permission to use the green and help with insurance arrangements.
Unusual (Rigging) Ltd. for the use of power cables.
PPL PRS for a Charity Music Licence.
The Village Hall Committee for use of the Hall in the case of bad weather.
Alwyne Wilson for her co-ordinating skills.
Tony Clewett for the use of the sound equipment and being so sure it would stop
Geoff Allen for being an incomparable compere.
Peter Squire and Jeremy Rice for fixing the power cables in the rain without
electrocuting themselves (or anyone else)!
Keith Rands Allen, Jill & Mike Langrish + grandsons, Alwyne W and Tony C for
erecting the gazebo despite the wind and rain.
The Rev. Stephen Burrow for his closing prayer.
And Richard Musson for providing the collecting buckets.

I have been told that carol singing on the green used to happen in the past and I would love to hear from anyone who can tell me when this was. It would be lovely to start a new ‘ Village Tradition’ but equally exciting to carry on an old one – especially as Northampton seems to be creeping ever nearer along the A45.

Thank you all for your support; hope to see you again in December.

Mary Rice

Heyford Lodge 01327 340101

The Story of Heyford: Cricket on the Village Green V4C5

Like most villages in England Nether Heyford sported the idyllic sight of twenty two people dressed in immaculate whites playing the age-old sport of Cricket on the Village Green.

A team game remarkably like cricket was being played in England as early as 1300 and by the 1700’s it was being played by the landed aristocracy and so became part of our culture. In the early 1890’s County Cricket was established with clubs being admitted only when the MCC judged their standard to be acceptable and the county of Northamptonshire was admitted in 1905.

The period 1890-1914 is regarded as the golden age of cricket with interest in the sport becoming widespread. Today it is not quite so popular with the young and it is not surprising that India and Pakistan have such magnificent teams as children take up cricket there as soon as they can hold a bat and at week-ends you can see teams and teams of players on any given space practising their skills -far more than even our local lads play football.

The tradition of a local cricket team still goes on in Heyford, but not on the Green. For the last few years you could see Julian Rice and his merry men playing on the well-tended sports ground by the Pavilion built ten years ago and situated just as you enter Heyford from the A45. (The Pavilion used to be the football changing rooms which were moved from the village green to the sports field). Still an idyllic sight but not the same perhaps as when cricket was played in the centre of the village.

The early years

The Cricket Club in Heyford was founded by Henry Isham Longden when he came to the village as Rector in 1897. He was, according to Joan Wake in her book ‘The life of Henry Isham Longden’, fond of cricket and apparently he had played for the Northampton Cricket Club in his curate days, so it is not surprising that he was always ready for a village cricket match. Hevford’s Bob Browning (1892-1997) recalls cricket being played on the green in the early 1900s, but these were in the days of friendlies against neighbouring villages.

There must have been a lapse of all activities during the 1914-1918 war with all able-bodied men fighting, but cricket resumed in the 1920’s. At this time the green was more uneven than it is today as it was grazed by cows. There was continual debate about whether a proper pitch could be laid. According to the rules laid down for the management of the green no digging could take place, and much argument went on about laying such a pitch. However agreement was eventually reached and a wicket turf was laid on the centre part of the green by Jack Nickolls and Tommy Kingston.

In the 1920’s the Heyford team consisted of such people as Bert Thompson, Frank Reeve, Bob Foster, Dick Foster and Ron Humphrey. They played friendlies against local villages, Farthingstone and Everdon. Before each match nets were erected along the far side of the green to protect the windows and slates of the houses nearby. And of course they all met afterwards in the clubroom of the Foresters Arms.

In the 1930’s the players included Bill Kingston, Bernard North, Charlie Copson, Jack Butcher, Dennis Clarke and Reg Collins. The main umpire for Heyford was Sonny Thompson and they played against Everdon, Pattishall, Astcote, Bugbrooke, Kislingbury and Harpole. Bill Kingston recalls that before they could play they had to make up the pitch. They had to fill in the holes, patch it, turf it and roll it because the cows had been on it all week! And according to Charlie Copson the pitch was so well prepared that it was used on Friday evenings for tennis matches.

Cricket as it appeared on the Green in the 1940’s and 1950’s



The team in the 1960’s


Standing, left to right: Jack Draper, Peter Brodie, John Draper, Michae Ingray, Norman Fonge, Bernard North, Ron Copson, Bert Thornicroft, Ben Spokes

Kneeling, left to right: Dennis Clarke, Jim Blood, Harry Haynes, Charlie King, Reg Collins 

Twenty years without a club

Then the cricket ceased. In the Sunday Telegraph a few weeks before Easter 1999, it was reported “The village Cricket Club has been forced to close after the wives and friends of the players refused to make their teas”. This, I hasten to add, was not what happened to Heyford. By the 1950’s Tommy Rolfe had left the Foresters and houses had been built alongside the green between Middle Street and the Post Office, making it difficult to protect them against damage from the balls. Also there were few young men in the village in the post war years because many were moving to town to take advantage of modern work and housing opportunities.

In the Mercury & Herald November 6th 1969 a little piece about Nether Heyford appeared. “Heyford is developing fast with an attractive diversity of new and stylish housing running in price to the five figure bracket, but in the heart of the village the scene remains much the same as half century ago – thanks to the preservation of one of the most expansive village greens in England. It is a curious fact, however, that Nether Heyford has no cricket club. It used to have one but the young people have cars these days and go where they will for their sport and pleasure”.

The club reformed

However, on the 16th June 1977 a meeting was held with Charles King asking the question “Would it be possible to raise a cricket team in the village?” and no article about cricket in Nether Heyford would be complete without a mention of Dave Jenkinson who, after this initial meeting, was elected Chairman of the newly reformed Cricket Club with Charles King, who lived in Hillside Road, becoming the Secretary.

Charles told the local paper that when they had started up again they played half-a-dozen evening games with limited overs to test out the interest. But with no pitch and little equipment and the green being used all winter for football, it was becoming very difficult to keep interest going. He reported that “we’ve had talks with a local farmer about using one of his fields, but at the moment we’re playing all our matches away from home; we book pitches on places like the Racecourse in Northampton. But the real snag about a square on the green, is that we’d need to spend £160 on safety netting along the roadside”.

Thus a new venue for cricket was being called for. Plans for playing fields were being started and fund-raising events taking place. And an apt headline appeared in the paper: “Cricketers bat on and refuse to be stumped”.

Discos at the Foresters Arms followed and on December 23rd 1977 a Christmas Supper Dance was held, music by the Neal Stanton Band, and tickets at £2.50. At this time the membership fee of the Cricket Club was £1 a head and the match fees 10p per game. More and more local people became involved with the Club and Mrs. Rosemary Haddon was elected Treasurer having the grand sum of £155.4p in the kitty.

In 1978 on the 25th May the Mercury and Herald reported some memories from Mr. Albert Garrett who was clerk to the parish council for 35 years and at that time 79 years old. “We used to play cricket on the green” he said “they’ve just started the club up again. I played until I was 60” and he laughed. “We used to break a lot of windows but this time I think they’re getting something to protect them. Even so, we always had a collection to pay for them, especially for one old chap who had his broken regularly.”

And in 1982 when Dave Tite was secretary, the Club was looking back to 1977, the year that Heyford Cricket Club was reformed and remarking on how well the club was doing since it started without money, equipment or fixtures. In March 1983 Geoff Garrett was voted Captain and Paul Horrocks was persuaded to take on the job of fund raising- a difficult but necessary job in the circumstances. They had a full fixture list and entered for the Watney Mann Cup.

All matches ‘away’

In 1984 still without proper grounds the Cricket Club flourished, meetings were held still at The Foresters Arms with Mine Hosts Alf and Marg Parker and youngsters were being recruited. At the Parish Council Annual Meeting members raised the subject of their need for practice nets in the village, perhaps on the green, and these “would not take up a great deal of room and could be used by the School and would add to the attractions of the village”. If you look at the fixture list for July 1984 you will see that not one of the matches were played at home. And amusingly on the front of the fixture list you will see the following:


It is better to have played and lost than never to have played at all.

(Gayton excepted)

At the 7th AGM of the Heyford Cricket Club on Sunday, 31st March 1985, the Chairman reported sadly that there was now no prospect of home fixtures being played within the Parish Boundary but that it was to be hoped that progress on the Heyford Playing Fields project would mean a ray of hope for future seasons.

The following report in September in the Prattler went “Came second to Ryland 0/B’s in the Clenbury / Haine Shield. Lost in the final. Watney Mann Cup got through to the second round by having a bye in the preliminary round – and beating Gayton in the first round. Lost to Buqbrooke in the second round. We have started a Youth Team with the lads doing most of their own organising. They have been going for about six months and have had two fixtures against very good sides. They tied their first game against Wootton Youth and narrowly lost to Rylands Under 15’s. They have a practise net on the Green every Monday evening. The lads show a lot of promise and hopefully next season we call get them into a league through the Cricket Association. “

But it was to be some time before cricketers could enjoy the game on their home turf. An article appeared in February 1987 stating that “The Parish Council, through its Leisure and Amenities Committee, has been looking into the possibility of acquiring enough land to provide a playing field for the use of the inhabitants of both Nether and Upper Heyford. This matter was also discussed at the last Annual Parish Council meeting. A steering group has been formed to consider the matter, and the outcome of their enquiries to date is that Mr. J Spokes of Upton is prepared to sell approximately 10 acres of land, which seems to be ideally suited to a games area. The land forms part of a flat field, which is situated behind the allotments and Mrs. Smith’s field on the Upper Road.”

The team in 1980


This photograph, taken on Jeremy Rice’s front lawn, shows the team as proud winners in 1980 of the Clenberry / Haine Shield.
Standing: Julian Rice, Ray Haddon, Dave Tite, Tony Charville, G Starmer, Graham Drake
Seated: Alex Kirkbride, Geoff Garrett, Geoff Sturgess, Mike Tharby

Home turf at last

In July 1988 the cricket square was making good progress “thanks to the efforts of the Grounds Committee headed by Jeremy Rice.” And in 1989 Geoff Sturgess of Hillside Crescent was very encouraged by the good turnout for the Youth Cricket Under 16’s Team as nets were now available down on the Playing Field.

In the Prattler, May 1989, the following article appeared compiled by Alex Kirkbride:

“The merry click of bat against the ball, the expectant rush, the cheering that proclaims skill of the greatest of all English games; Flutter of the flags, the branches of the trees swaying beneath the summer breeze; No sweeter music in the world is found than that upon an English cricket ground.

R Ratcliffe Ellis; Cricket Music

Yes, the dream is now a reality. Heyford Cricket Club is back at home”.

And now in 1999 Simon Legge has taken over the captaincy from Julian Rice and will lead his team in League Cricket. The village Green has seen the very last of the cricket but thanks to all the efforts of the stalwarts of the village, the cricket heritage will continue.


With grateful thanks to Barbara Haynes, Julian Rice and Dave Tite

Julie Rands-Allen


Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 4 of 4 | Chapter 5 of 8 | Pages 22 to 27


Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

Heyford Singers – This is Music! – May 10th & May 11th



If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Heyford Singers – April 2019


Occasionally we have to make choices, and unfortunately they turn out to be the wrong ones ……with ensuing consequences! On a beautifully warm late February morning I opted to do some clearing on the allotment site, instead of doing the weekend shop. A long and determined bramble, a tumble and I was in A&E with a broken arm! Like any illness or injury the world can change in a split second; routines, plans, simple everyday activities taken for granted, are suddenly part of a difficult course to be navigated each day. And I humbly acknowledge that there are many folk who face far more demanding challenges in their roads to recovery; I admire you all for your determination, resilience, bravery and cheerfulness.

In my small recuperative world, restricted from more energetic activities, I have read a great deal, enjoyed some fascinating programmes on the radio, listened to music and watched spring unfold, albeit through tempestuous March days. Which brings me to the song heading this article, “Look at the World”.

It is probably my favourite song from the modern classical music repertoire, and I, like many other members of Heyford Singers, was delighted when Mary chose to include it in the programme for the spring concert in May. It was written by the English composer and conductor, John Rutter (1945 – ), who has had a long association with Clare College, Cambridge – first as a student, then Director of Music, later as parent, and recording producer for their famous choir. He has composed a vast number of songs, anthems and choral works, including commissions for the Queen’s Jubilee and recent royal weddings. This particular song was written in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

“Look at the World” is sung to the most beautiful tune (listen if you can), but it is the words and sentiments that capture the beauty of the world and the changing seasons.

“Look at the world, everything all around us. 

Look at the world and marvel every day.

Look at the world, so many joys and wonders. 

So many miracles along our way.”

Blossom and buds opening on awakening trees, a riot of colour as the bare soil gives way to a profusion of spring flowers, the birds busy prospecting for suitable nesting sites, and the morning chorus gathering force – so much that is wonderful at this time of year, and all captured in the verses of the song.

I know that I have mentioned it many times before but we are so fortunate living in this beautiful English village, with its close and caring community, surrounded by a rural landscape which embraces fields, hills, farms, woods, a river and a canal, plus various historical and cultural features. If you need to see a world beyond your own immediate needs and troubles what better place is there than this?


Heyford Singers are busy with their rehearsals for the spring concert,

“THIS IS MUSIC” on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May.


Tickets at £7.50 for adults and £4.00 for under 12’s , will very soon be available from Keith Rands-Allen (01327 340741 or 07971 786912) and if recent concerts are anything to go by, they will sell out very quickly!

We do hope that you can join us, to hear amongst other lovely songs, the beautiful “Look at the World” by John Rutter. More details about the concert programme in the next Prattler issue.


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Jill Langrish